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Sunday, July 01, 2012

"Rich and strange"

Review - Youmans' novel might be her best yet

"A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage" continues Youmans' winning ways. It received the Ferrol Sams Award for Southern fiction. It may, in fact, be Youmans' best to date: a picaresque yarn that invites comparisons to Robert Penn Warren.

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Although it's only intermittently comic, "White Camellia Orphanage" has parallels to Michael Malone's "Handling Sin." Both books are haunted with Christian imagery and metaphor, and both involve a quest for missing family. (Pip eventually encounters an older sister, who perhaps inevitably is named Lil.)
It is not a novel for speed-readers. Youmans revels in wordplay, metaphor and descriptions as luxuriant and dense as kudzu. She can also be slippery. In her version of Georgia, a lady's hatpin is a wildflower, not an object in a toilette.
Readers willing to exercise, though, will find plenty of reward. Like Warren's fiction, Youmans' book is as much poem as novel, turning ordinary story into something rich and strange.
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Read the entire review here.
Published: Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 12:30 a.m.


  1. There. that's better isn't it?

  2. 'Tis, Miss Lucy Kempton of the grand e-estate, Box Elder!


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.